By Kelsey Mohring (@mohrinkd)
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Mastering Blogger Relations session as part of Adfero Group’s Get PR Smart series. I found this workshop to be particularly educational since, as an Account Coordinator at CRT/tanaka, one of my main responsibilities has been blogger outreach. Therefore, I’d like to share some of my takeaways from the event.
As the media landscape changes, we are finding more and more that bloggers are the ones to reach. Seventy-seven percent of internet users read blogs, which offers an exciting opportunity for engagement. Although traditional news media continues to be the most trusted source of information about companies, in the past year, new media (which includes blogs) saw a huge rise in trust, jumping by 75 percent since 2011. Audiences are now looking to bloggers for targeted and trusted content, which is bolstered by the human voice factor associated with blogs. Additionally, we benefit from the SEO increases and the ability to reach out to a niche, targeted network that we already know has interest in our topic.
So how do we develop this simpatico relationship offering value to the bloggers while creating a high ROI for our clients? We frequently discuss how important researching the right media outlets is, and we all nod knowing that if we had all the time in the world, then we would research each pub for tone, themes, content and correct contacts (while also trying to figure out their pet’s name and favorite color.) But, realistically it usually it comes down to pitching an already created master media list that has maybe 200 somewhat-related-to-the-topic bloggers on it. Is this shotgun method the most effective practice? I’m not so sure.
I think it comes down to a few things. First, we need to educate our clients on the time it takes to successfully conduct blogger outreach and build these relationships, while setting realistic expectations. If our clients have the expectation that five hours should be plenty of time for successfully pitching a story to bloggers, then not only are we stressed to the max trying to meet an impossible goal, but they will almost always be disappointed when we either go over our allotted time or don’t garner the desired amount of coverage.
Second, we could make better use of our time by focusing our efforts on a list of 25-50 contacts that we have researched, built relationships with and know are the best bloggers for our audience. This requires making connections with bloggers before we need them. Tweet at them, comment on their blog, send a complimentary email when you see a post you like (who doesn’t love a compliment?) or even link to them in your online content and social networks. Believe it or not, these bloggers can tell when we attempt to make a generic email look personal by using mail merge to insert their names. (I know, shocker, we thought it was a secret.) It’s like dating; they have to feel like they are in an exclusive relationship (even if the reality is you are playing the blogger field) and there has to be a courting process involved before you pop the question. Similarly, bloggers need to be wooed before we make the big ask for coverage. There are people behind those words on your computer screen and they don’t like feeling used, so make the extra effort to establish those relationships. Then, when you call on them in your hour of need, they are much more likely to lend a helping post.
What best practices have you discovered during your ventures into blogger relations?
Images courtesy of Direct Marketing Observations, The Jonathan Rick Group.